Florida Teen Whose Mother Treated Her With Hydroxychloroquine Died from COVID-19

Karen Veazey
Carsyn Davis
Carsyn Davis

A 17-year-old Florida girl has died after contracting the coronavirus and being treated at home with hydroxychloroquine by her mother, who is a nurse, and step-father, a physician’s assistant. Carsyn Davis, of Fort Myers, fell sick on June 13 with a headache, sinus pressure and a mild cough, according to a coroner’s report. That was three days after Davis attended a large party at her church, Fort Myers’ First Assembly of God, according to Newsweek. Though social media posts about the party were later deleted, screenshots of the event called it a “release party” and advertised it with games, basketball, a DJ and karaoke.

Social distancing and masks were not present at the event but when Davis fell ill her family still thought it was due to a sinus infection. That was until about six days after symptoms appeared, when they noticed she had a grey appearance while she was sleeping. Her mother tested her oxygen saturation and found it to be in the 40s. Normal oxygen saturation levels are between 95 and 100.

Related:Download The Mighty app to connect in real time with people who can relate to what you're going through.

The family’s grandfather lived with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) so Davis’ mother borrowed his oxygen tank and hooked Carsyn up to it. She also gave the teen a dose of hydroxychloroquine. The FDA has cautioned against the use of the drug, particularly outside of hospital settings, for treating COVID-19 because it can cause heart rhythm issues.

While clinical trials are ongoing to determine the safety and effectiveness of these drugs for COVID-19, there are known side effects of these medications that should be considered. We encourage health care professionals making individual patient decisions closely screen and monitor those patients to help mitigate these risks. — FDA statement on hydroxychloroquine

When the girl didn’t improve they took her to the hospital where she was put into pediatric intensive care. The parents declined to have her put on a respirator.

On June 22 Davis’ condition had deteriorated so much that she was finally put on a respirator but she continued to worsen. She died on June 23 of complications from COVID-19 and pneumonia.

Related:The Only Thing We Need If We Want to Prevent the Worst Outcome of COVID-19

Davis had survived cancer as a child and lived with a rare autoimmune disorder, according to a GoFundMe page set up for the family. For fun she loved to bowl and sing in the local choir and served as an aide in a classroom for kids with disabilities as well as a volunteer for the Special Olympics and Be a Buddy program.

Davis’ mother, Carole Brunton Davis, has taken down her Facebook page but according to Rolling Stone she had posted anti-mask sentiments on a website called Don’t Mask Our Kids. Screen grabs circulating on Twitter also indicate that while her daughter was in the hospital Brunton Davis was at odds with the doctors who would not give her daughter hydroxychloroquine.

Related:7 Lessons From My Chronic Illness on Living With Our ‘New Normal’

The Frontlines: Hydroxychloroquine is a controversial drug which some people, including President Donald Trump, believe treats coronavirus symptoms. In May Trump said he took a two-week course of the drug himself as a prophylactic measure to protect against the virus after two White House workers tested positive. The FDA has released a statement urging use of the drug only in controlled hospital settings, based on the potential for series side effects in some people.

  • Hydroxychloroquine is approved by the FDA to treat malaria and autoimmune conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis

  • The FDA issued an emergency use authorization to use hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 in late March, but rescinded that EUA on June 15 after a large, randomized clinical trial found no benefit through treatment with the drug

  • As a result of Trump and others’ hype about hydroxychloroquine early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, many lupus patients had difficulty getting the drug, which prevents lupus flares and manages symptoms

A Mighty Voice: For people with chronic illness, like Carsyn Davis, COVID-19 is an even bigger threat. Our contributor, Hannah Becker, discussed her fears and feelings about how the pandemic is being handled.

“I’ve learned a lot about how my community views me over the past few isolating months — most of which I’d rather have never known. I believe that my life is valuable to our community. I wish others would recognize that. Just because my body doesn’t work like yours, doesn’t mean that I am an ‘acceptable loss’ in a pandemic — an event that is best controlled through protective public health measures.” You can submit your first person story, too.

Other things to know: COVID-19 isn’t the only health issue many people are dealing with. Read how others are getting on with life and health despite the pandemic.

What you should know: If you or someone you love experiences potential COVID-19 symptoms reach out to your health professional and consider getting tested. Symptoms of the coronavirus can include (among others):

  • Fever or chills

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle or body aches

  • Headache

  • Loss of taste or smell

  • Sore throat

  • Congestion or runny nose

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Diarrhea

You can visit your state or local health department website to look for testing sites.

Read more stories like this on The Mighty:

Scientists Suggest COVID-19 May Be Airborne in New Open Letter

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